Diezani: Court rules today on ‘hidden’ N7.6b

Written by Maritime First
  • As Noose tightens around Alison-Madueke in UK over uncovered £18 million property

The Federal High Court in Lagos will today decide whether the N7,646,700,000 allegedly hidden in a bank  by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, can be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

On August 9, 2017, vacation judge Justice Chuka Obiozor granted an order temporarily forfeiting the money to the Federal Government.

Justice Obiozor’s order followed an ex parte application argued before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He adjourned till today for the bank and any other interested party to appear before him to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The EFCC told the judge that the N7.6 billion was part of a sum of $153,310,000, which Mrs. Alison-Madueke allegedly siphoned from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) sometime in 2014.

The anti-graft agency said she stashed the money in three banks, adding that the Federal Government had since February last year, through an order by Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos recovered part of the money from the other banks.

The anti-graft agency recalled that the Federal Government had recovered N23.4 billion, $5 million and another N9.08 billion of the $153.3m million.

It urged the court to order Sterling Bank to deliver up to the Federal Government the N7.6 billion still in its custody.

In an eight-paragraph affidavit, an operative of the EFCC, Usman Zakari, averred that the former Petroleum Minister laundered the money in connivance with other officials of the NNPC.

On August 7, 2017, Justice Obiozor ordered the permanent forfeiture to the Federal Government of a $37.5million Banana Island property allegedly bought in 2013 by Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

The property designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, consists of 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.

The judge also ordered that $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70 realised as rent on the property be permanently forfeited to the government.

Last Tuesday, the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the interim forfeiture of 56 houses allegedly bought between 2011 and 2013 for $21,982,224 (N3,320,000,000) by Diezani.

Justice Abdulaziz Anka adjourned till September 8 for anyone to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

On August 8, 2017, The Nation revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) traced N47.2 billion and $487.5million to the ex-minister.

The agency also claimed that Alison Madueke had N23,446,300,000 and $5 million (about N1.5billion) cash in various banks, which were yet to be forfeited.

The commission is also investigating properties in Britain and the United States she allegedly purchased with stolen government funds.

Alison-Madueke, who was a powerful member of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet from 2010 to May 2015, has consistently denied the allegations.

In the meantime, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has frozen a £10million worth of London property allegedly bought for Diezani Alison-Madueke as investigations into the case against the former minister unravels by the day.

Two properties at Regents Park in London, along with one in Buckinghamshire, have now been frozen based on the request of Nigerian authorities.

A London court gave the frozen order in September 2016 but details of the rulings have only recently become public.

But the agency was too late in preventing a further two properties worth £8m from being sold.

In July, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed four properties it alleged were bought for the former petroleum  minister by individuals and firms seeking her influence in obtaining lucrative oil asset and crude oil lifting contracts.

Some of the oil asset were assigned to people believed to be her cronies through controversial Strategic Alliance Agreements.

The DoJ’s affidavit stated that businessmen Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko were involved in the purchase of two of the properties allegedly bought for Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

The UK order obtained by journalists at Africa Confidential has revealed that three of the properties have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Nation with additional report from Premium

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Maritime First